Contrary to what you may have read on the internet, not all movie remakes are pointless. Some, like the brooding Dredd, which in 2012 atoned for the sins of the naff mid-‘90s Sylvester Stallone caper, add a new dimension to the source material. Others, like Nicolas Cage’s bananas 2006 remake of the ‘70s British horror The Wicker Man, are so crap that they increase your appreciation of the original. Yet for every Dredd, for every Wicker Man, there’s a pointless shot-for-shot remake of Psycho.
As such, we decided to look at misjudged remakes that added bugger all to the originals. They weren’t all bad, they weren’t that good, but they were criminal wastes of celluloid.
A phrase to chill your blood: shot-for-shot remake. Anthony Perkins brought a creeping, insidious quality to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1960 slasher flick; Vince Vaughn looks like he’s about to ask if you have a Nectar card. Director Gus Van Sant explained in 2009: “With Psycho, I was sort of angry at Hollywood trying to remake movies, because it seemed like they would rob the screenplay and forget all the other inputs, whatever else existed… So I said: ‘Why don’t you just shoot it exactly the way it is, because it’s a great movie?’” This was my sort of anti-remake statement.”
Get Carter (2000)
More weird casting: Hollywood beefcake Sylvester Stallone stands in for Michael Caine (who takes a supporting role here) and the action is transposed from Newcastle to Seattle. The point of the 1971 film was to explore the seediness that thrived in the northern city while London swung. It’s like remaking Jaws but set in space. Other than that, Stallone was kinda badass.
Funny Games (2007)
File this with Psycho. Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke remade his own 1997 thriller, in which two madmen interrupt a family holiday, torturing their victims and, breaking the fourth wall as well as Tim Roth’s leg, criticise the viewer for enjoying the bloodshed. Haneke claims he made the American version (starring non-Americans Roth and Naomi Watts) because US audiences’ bloodlust had increased since ’97. Dude, this is Hollywood. Give us a kiss, a car chase and a comic sidekick or GTFO.
The Karate Kid (2010)
Two words: Mr Miyagi. The character, a Yoda-like figure who teaches karate to a teen in this kids’ movie, is an icon of ‘80s cinema. Jackie Chan plays him in the remake and looks like he’s in it for the buffet cart. This version gets points for moving the action from LA to Beijing, which at least creates an interesting culture clash as Jaden Smith’s character learns Chinese customs firsthand, but there’s no “wax on/wax off” moment. Instead we get this weird thing where Chan teaches Smith karate moves by asking him to remove his jacket.
Total Recall (2012)
Phillip K. Dick’s sci-fi book We Can Remember For You Wholesale (great writer; needed snappier titles) gets the film treatment for the second time, this time with Colin Farrell in the Arnold Schwarzenegger role. Man seeks to have fake memories implanted, gets more than he bargained for. The original had a scene where a guy’s head explodes; the remake had a set that looked borrowed from Blade Runner.